Nantucket Vs. Martha’s Vineyard


Summer is creeping up fast, and soon you’ll be wondering which picture-perfect island off the coast of Cape Cod you’ll want to visit. Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard are both located off the southern coast of New England. While both islands are hot tourist destinations from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day weekend, they each offer different experiences. We’ve come up with 5 differences to help you determine which island is the best choice for you. 


Size and Location 

Nantucket Island


What was once the whaling capital of the world in the 19th century is now a popular summer destination. Nantucket Island is only 7 by 14 miles long and is located 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod. This tiny island holds coastal beauty with perfectly groomed privet and unpainted cedar-shingled homes. The cobblestone roads lead to the many restaurants and high-end boutiques in the heart of downtown. The Island is easy to explore since it is home to only one town and two zip codes. 


Martha’s Vineyard

This historical New England summer colony is located only 7 miles off the coast of Cape Cod. Martha’s Vineyard is twice the size of Nantucket with 125 miles of coastline and is the 58th largest island in the United States. The island offers harbor towns, lighthouses, and many pristine sandy beaches. 


Environment and Architecture 

Main Street ACK


Stepping off the ferry, you will first notice there are no chain stores or traffic lights due to Nantucket Historical Association’s strict building and restoration codes. Nantucket possesses three magnificent lighthouses, Brant Point, Great Point, and Sankey Head Light. As if stepping back into time, what used to be a fishing outpost on the eastern end of the island is now filled with former fishing cottages. Most of which feature overgrown roses that frame the entire dwelling. This historical island is just waiting for your arrival. 

MV gingerbread cottages

Martha’s Vineyard

Unlike Nantucket with only one town, Marthas Vineyard is home to six beautiful towns, each different in its own way. All of which bring their own personalities to the table. The island’s largest town is Edgartown, known for its rich whaling tradition. Tisbury is home to the main village of Vineyard Haven, the island’s primary port. While West Tisbury is the island’s agriculture center, which in late August is home to the island’s agriculture fair. “Cottage City” also known as Oak Bluffs is popular for its gingerbread cottages, open harbor, and busy Circuit Avenue. The town of Chilmark is where you’ll find many hills on the rural side of the island. Last but not least, the town of Aquinnah is home to the clay cliffs and Wampanoag Indian tribe. When visiting this alluring island be sure to plan enough days to visit all of the six towns, as each one is beautiful in its own way. 



ACK beach stickers


In the summer Nantucket island is home to the Chads, Brads, and Becky’s of the world. When driving up and down the cobblestone streets of Nantucket you will notice many people wearing Nantucket Reds. They are cotton canvas pants that fade to a dusty rose color. Wearing these indicates you are an island regular. You will also notice the woman in all Lily Pulitzer outfits. Not to forget, the beach passes on your car bumper act as a status symbol. The amount of stickers you have indicates how many years you’ve vacationed on the island. 


MV downtown

Martha’s Vineyard

Effortless is better on this island, there’s no dress code here! You will never feel underdressed in flip-flops and a pair of shorts. Think casual, beachy, and chic. Not to mention, Martha’s Vineyard is very popular with Hollywood stars and politicians who vacation or have summer homes on the island. 


Steps Beach- Nantucket

Steps Beach- Nantucket

Moshup Public Beach

Moshup Public Beach- Martha’s Vineyard


Of course, both island’s main attractions are the pristine beaches. While Martha’s Vineyard has 125 miles of coastline and Nantucket only has 80, you can’t go wrong with any shore you visit. Throughout the coasts of each island, calm waters and high surf are found. Great for families with small children, and surfers of all ages. Although lifeguards are only found on some of the beaches, so make sure you check before heading out. 




Living or vacationing on each island comes with a cost. Some of the most expensive real estates in New England are found along the shores of both Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. However, Martha’s Vineyard does allow for more budget-friendly accommodations and restaurants due to a greater variety.